Meg Whitman, HP’s steady hand and now change agent

HP CEO Meg Whitman’s decision to split the storied technology company in two did not come as a huge surprise to industry analysts, some of whom advocated for a similar change when she took over the company in 2011.

The decision not to take a bold action then and to do so now is classic Meg Whitman, an industry observer told me. She is an MBA at heart, who weighed the company’s culture, investor confidence and the changes that needed to happen.

When she first arrived at the company, it was after a chief executive, Léo Apotheker, was shown the door, and a prior CEO, Mark Hurd, resigned after an expense report investigation. 

At the time, Whitman said then that HP would remain as one, reassuring many.

Her first order was stabilizing the company, said M. Eric Johnson, dean of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management and a former HP employee. He said: 

When she came in, she made a cultural decision to keep the storied Silicon Valley icon together. She didn’t want to make the really hard decision from the get go.

After three years providing a stable hand at the company but also overseeing declining revenue, she has divided the company, telling the Wall Street Journal “a split like this could not have been contemplated without the work that has been done over the last three years.”

Above: HP CEO Meg Whitman. (Kirstina Sangsahachart/ Daily News) 


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